Her family and friends called her “Juke”, “Juju” and “Jukies”, but the world knows her as TV chef and author, Julia Child. Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912. The oldest of three children, Julia had a privileged childhood and stood out among her peers as a wild prankster who towered over everyone else at the height of 6 feet, 2 inches.
Julia met Paul, the love of her life, while they were both working for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The happy couple was married in 1946. When Paul was reassigned to a post in Paris, Julia bid “bon voyage” to the U.S. for a temporary post in France. There she fell madly in love with French food, and began living with an enthusiastic joie de vivre for the country.
Her passion for French cooking led her to the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school, where she spent six months cooking with the finest chefs in the country – most of which were men! When she graduated, this culinary tour de force wanted to give the world a taste of what she was cooking! Julia mixed it up with fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form a cooking school called L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).
Wanting to wish “Bon appétit” to mainstream America, the trio adapted French cuisine for mainstream Americans by collaborating on a two-volume cookbook. The 734-page, 3-lb cookbook was released in September of 1961 under the title “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. The book was considered groundbreaking and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication.
Julia promoted her now-famous book on a Boston public television station. Introducing the world to her trademark blunt manner and hearty wit, she gained an immediate fan base by humorously preparing an omelet on air. This landmark first for Julia led her to host her own TV series on cooking for WGBH in 1962. Her beginning salary? $50 a show – this was later raised to $200 per show, plus expenses!
The French Chef TV series, like “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, gave us a new way of looking at food and made Julia a celebrity. The French Chef was eventually syndicated to 96 stations throughout America.
Julia is still in the public eye today. In 2009, the feature film Julie & Julia made its way to the big screen. Starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as writer Julie Powell, the movie covers Powell’s attempt to cook every recipe in Julia’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year, while blogging her entire experience. Child and Powell are also the inspiration for the popular current blog www.ayearwithjulia.com.
So as we bid you adieu, tell us – what is YOUR favorite French dish?